Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/74

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70 POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

tism has raised its timely protest and its demand that all the factors of a situation must be represented constructively in the result.

The pragmatic philosophy, in other words, is a functional idealism : its method is at once intrinsic or immanent and functional or organic. By saying that its method is immanent, we mean that experience must be interpreted from within. We can not jump out of our skins, as Professor James says; we can not pull ourselves up by our own boot- straps. We find ourselves in mid-stream of the Niagara of experience and may define what it is only by working back and forth within the current. " We don't know where we're going but we're on the way." If it be asked, Where does this " concrete " experience come from ? the question, as Professor Dewey replies, is irrelevant. Experience does not " come from " an} r where. It is here. We begin with it as the reality-here-and-now. To pursue the question of the origin of experience in an absolute sense, is to seek to run out on an abstrac- tion as if it were a tight-rope, when it has no support at the other end. " How experience became we shall never find out," writes Professor Dewey, " for the reason that experience always is. We shall never account for it by referring it to something else, for ' something else ' is only for and in experience." Or, as Professor James has put it, " Though one part of our experience may lean upon another part to make it what it is in any one of several aspects in which it may be conceived, experience as a whole is self-containing and leans on nothing."

By organic or functional is meant that all distinctions in theory are true only in relation to the specific situation within which they are set up. There is no truth in general or in the abstract : there are only truths. It further means that in the case of all the dualisms of reflect- ive thought which have occasioned so much controversy in the history of philosophy, each abstract member of the dichotomous distinction is true only in relation to the other. Does a man walk more with his left or with his right leg ? asks Professor James. If he is lost in the forest in the northern hemisphere, he may be said perhaps to walk more with his right leg when he goes around in a circle to the left, but more important than the fact of inequality is the fact that he must use them both and that they must cooperate to a common end, if he is to be said to walk at all. When I follow the squirrel around the tree, do I or do I not go around the squirrel? As Professor James here, too, has pointed out, I do, and I do not, go around the squirrel according to which situation of " going around " is under discussion. As he con- tinues, it is not particularly illuminating when you ask what o'clock it is, to be told, as the traditional metaphysician tells us, that he lives in Kensington Place.

Only by a functional interpretation of the time-honored antinomies of reflective thought is it possible to put any practical meaning into the

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